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Pathology

Robert R. Cawley, D.O.

Dover, NH 03802

Education & Training

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06/14/2019

International Travel Medicine: Your Passport to a Healthy Trip

You’ve planned the trip, booked your travel, and have your passport. International travel can be an exciting, often life changing opportunity to step outside of normal routines and broaden horizons. Careful pre-trip planning can enhance these experiences, and that includes a pro-active approach to health care. Before those bags are packed, travelers can take advantage of the customized health services offered through our International Travel Medicine Clinic in Portsmouth at the Wentworth-Douglass Hospital Outpatient Center. 

The Travel Clinic gives the public access to travel health experts like Elizabeth Kirby, APRN. Kirby says she is “passionate about my job. I enjoy meeting people who are traveling all over the world, and for so many different reasons. Patients range from students who are studying abroad, to seniors who have been planning their ‘bucket list’ trip for years.” She also works with people who travel because of their jobs, relatives reconnecting with family members abroad, and volunteers who may be going to underdeveloped countries as part of orphanage and education missions, medical clinics, or clean water and environmental initiatives.

“Some of these destinations are in very remote places, so it’s important that I drill down into each person’s travel itinerary, and provide an individualized travel plan that factors in where they are going, how long they will be there, and what they will be doing. That way, we can determine exactly what they need, and – just as important, what they don’t need.”

The result is definitely not a “one size fits all” travel health plan. While it may include medications, prescriptions, and vaccinations, it is not necessarily limited in scope to infectious diseases, such as malaria, typhoid fever, meningitis, and hepatitis A and B. According to Kirby, “We also address issues such as altitude sickness, motion sickness, jet lag, insect bite prevention, and food and water precautions.” These problems can affect anyone, regardless of fitness level and overall health. For example, Kirby has met with hikers planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, counseling them on how to ascend into unfamiliar altitude levels with a slow and steady pace.

“We want to create a customized treatment and prevention plan to help ensure not only good health, but safety, too. Some of these destinations can be quite remote with limited access to medical care.” This preparation is especially important for travelers with specific medical needs, including chronic disease and pregnant travelers, who can ask questions at the Travel Clinic and get advice about potential risks and prevention strategies.

Kirby works under the guidance of Dr. Artemio Mendoza, Infectious Disease Specialist at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, and with Jacqueline Irzyk, APRN. The staff has seen a steady increase in patients over the years, as more and more travelers see the value in advance health care planning that translates into peace of mind. Visits are available for individuals, couples, families and groups. Kirby suggests scheduling appointments at least one month prior to trip departure if possible.

For more information about the International Travel Medicine Clinic, call (603) 610-8065 or visit wdhospital.org/travelclinic.

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